"Momma! Momma, look, did you see that?"
Her mother laughed. "See what, Prezzie?"
"A shooting star!"
Papa laughed too and tightened his grip on the sleeping two-year-old so he could see out too. "Hmm. Better make a wish, little girl."
Prez squeezed her eyes shut. "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight -"
Suddenly, there was a screeching sound and the train was falling -
She was pulled back to the present when a hand, slightly smaller than her own, gripped hers. Hard.
Prez pulled in a shaky breath. "It's okay." She comforted her sister, trying not to let her voice break on the last syllable. "It's going to be fine." Oops, her voice cracked that time.
Luckily, Bill spoke. "I've been on at least ten train rides, it's all going to be okay."
"Have you ever been on a train ride outside of the zoo's Fun Train when you were little?" Girlie asked skeptically.
"Well, no, but . . ."
Prez groaned and leaned against Bill's shoulder. She grabbed one of the barf bags and hyperventilated into it.
The train took another turn.
"Girlie?" She hollered, trying to avoid her parents' bodies as she searched desperately for some sign of life, any sign of life, from the toddler.
"I'm okay, I'm okay." She was forcing herself to breathe now. She needed air, she needed air, the walls were closing in around her, she was going to die -
"The first train station is coming up, do you want to get out and breathe?"
"No, if I get out you'll never get me back in. I'm fine."
"Yeah." She gulped down panic.
Come on, it's okay. You just happened to get a sleep-deprived driver last time.
What if we got another one?
She leaned against Bill, breathing deeply in an effort to calm herself down.
These were going to be the longest three days of her life.
Several states later, she still hadn't slept even though Bill was snoring with his face against the window and Girlie was passed out using her lap as a pillow. But on the bright side, the turns weren't as gut wrenching as they had been.
She stared out the window.
A single shooting star crossed the sky, and her heart lifted.
Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, wish I may, wish I might, grant the wish I wish tonight. Please let us get there safely.
The stars winked in response, and Prez smiled a little. She leaned against Bill and fell asleep.
WELCOME TO OREGON
"How much longer?" Prez asked the conductor, who was going around checking tickets. He checked hers, then handed it back.
"I'd say about an hour."
The conductor left, and Prez watched Oregon speed past her. The sun was rising, and both of her companions were asleep.
Neither woke up until Prez let a happy squeal escape. She'd seen the sign for their destination.